It has been a busy few weeks for boxing, or more specifically, Al Haymon's new
promotion league entity Premier Boxing Champions. Last week we saw it score impressive ratings for its primetime network TV debut on NBC. Next week we see it return to network television, this time its CBS, with a Saturday afternoon show. And tonight it appears as part of Spike's new Friday Night Lights Out, a rotating series dedicated to their collection of combat sports brands, including Bellator MMA, Glory Kickboxing, and now PBC boxing. With programming on SPIKE, NBC, CBS, Bounce, Univision, Showtime, and potentially more, PBC has not only made big time boxing available to the general public, they've made it damn near impossible to escape.
While Spike is only a piece in the puzzle PBC is assembling, by all accounts it is an important piece. To help answer what they bring to the table, what they and PBC hoped to accomplish, and a myriad of other questions, I recently spoke to Spike TV's president Kevin Kay.
Bloody Elbow's questions are in bold, Kay's answers are in italics.
How did your deal with Al Haymon and PBC come about?
When I started circling around boxing a few years ago, Doug Herzog, who is my boss, told me I should sit down with Al Haymon and have conversation about what I want to do. He and Al Haymon know each other and go a long way back, and he suggested I speak to him and he could tell me about the landscape of boxing, how it works and how it's different from MMA. So we talked and he was very helpful.
What I was really looking for was someone who was willing to present boxing in a different way. Because I always had the feeling when I tune in and I watch boxing that it could still be 1975. It's the same presentation. The same commentators. The same red, white, and blue ring.
Al and I were on the same page, so the more we talked the more I realized he was the guy I should get into business with. So a few months ago we really got serious about it when he was ready to launch PBC and when he laid out the plan for me, we sat down and we struck a deal.
What was the plan he laid out?
Pretty much what you see happening between us and CBS and NBC - and I think there will be more to come. It is about building an organization that had many different platforms and can bring boxing back to what it once was, but by doing it in a new way
Can you share with us any details to your deal with PBC? Is it similar to NBC's which I've been told is a time buy?
We obviously never talk about financial details but I will say that we are both heavily invested in this. Al is putting up a great deal and we are putting a lot into it as well and we are very excited. We plan on having boxing for years to come on Spike.
So what is PBC? Is it a promotion? Something else?
Only way to classify PBC is that it's an organization. An organization of fighters. There's some 150 to 180 fighters signed to them and we'll make great use of them.
What's your expectations for PBC on Spike? Do you have target goals for what you'd consider successful ratings?
You never want to make ratings predictions because as soon as you do you'll be wrong. What you want to see is an increase in ratings over time. That's what we'd like to see with all our combat sports and programming.
My goal is to try to give boxing exposure to younger viewers. I think that's Spike's place in this, because we have a large audience of 18 to 34 year olds that love combat sports. If we can bring them to the table I think that's what's going to help secure boxing's future. Because right now, we all know this, it's an old sport. If we can bring 18 to 34 year olds to boxing that's what's going to secure the future of boxing because otherwise everyone is going to age out and that's not going to be great for the sport.
I think this thing could be huge. We know boxing fans are out there. We know the kind of ratings boxing has done on pay cable which is on 30 million homes and we are in 100 million. The potential is very big.
Do you worry that with PBC on so many channels it may dilute what you are doing on Spike? That the market for boxing is quickly getting over-saturated?
I think that's the genius of it. When would there be a better time to invest in boxing. It's on NBC this weekend, it's going to be on Spike, and then CBS. Pacquiao and Mayweather is happening so people are paying attention to boxing. And I think all these platforms give a lot of different people the opportunity to see it. We have PBC exclusive on Friday's once a month but I think it's great that they'll be promoting our shows on NBC this weekend and we'll promoting upcoming NBC and CBS shows on Spike.
What we've done with every combat sport we've been involved with is shoulder programming .We have the time to do it and we know how to do it well. If we can take guys like Berto, Porter, and others that are going to be fighting for us, and we can build them up that's going to be good for them and good for the sport.
We have an hour special this week on all four guys on this Friday's show. Going forward it will probably be a half hour but we are going to do it for every show. We are going to use our air time to really promote these guys and tell their stories. What I want to do is a build an emotional connection to these fighters and build them as starts. And I think that's what going to get people interested.
Premier Boxing Champions debuts with Andre Berto vs Josesito Lopez and Shawn Porter vs Erick Bone tonight at 9PM ET/PT on the Spike channel